Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back . . . and Ahead

This is what it looked like around here 2 days after Christmas!  And today the temps are to reach the mid 50's! 

The contrasts remind me of this past year!  Is it possible that we've reached the end of another year?  I remember when everyone was wondering what would happen when we reached the year 2000 and now that is 11 years behind us! 

Some of us might be quite sad today, thinking back on this past year and how we wish things could have been different - better.  How we could have been different - better. 

Others of us might be very happy today, glad the old year is ending and looking forward to the chance to start it all over and hopefully this time have it be better.

Either way -- depending on our moods and circumstances -- there is one thing that never changes and one thing we should be shouting from the roof tops --- God is good, God loves us with an unconditional love and He never changes!!!!!!

In January I started a reading program that would have me read through the Bible in a year.  It's one of those things that I had always meant to do -- and then just never did.  I guess I thought that since I spent 8 years in the Lutheran school with both religion and memory work as additional letter grades that I sort of "knew it all" -- even though I had never read the entire Book!  Amazing how ridiculous we can be in our thinking, isn't it!

This morning --- I did it!  I finished the entire plan and must say that I am quite pleased that God gave me the ability to stick with it!  I made the promise to myself that I would begin each day with reading His Word and doing so not only changed each day -- it changed my life!  The insights and revelations have been life changing! 

The very last verse that was on my reading plan this morning was this, "Praise the Lord."

How appropriate for the ending of one year and the beginning of another!  It says it all, it covers everything, it leaves nothing out and if we all really and truly think about our lives (good and bad) we will realize that it's the MOST important thing we can do to both end this year and start the new one!

From both Monty and I --- we praise and thank God for each and every one of you and want to both close this year and start the new one with His promise for all of us; "Jesus is coming for you, dear one.  This is a promise your heart can rest in fully as you watch, listen and serve.  The rooms are ready, the gate is open.  He can't wait to wrap us in His arms!"

Until next time . . . "Praise the Lord."                                Susan and Monty

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tough ending

Ending this year has proved to be tough for both of us -- physically.

I have been feeling bad since the day before Christmas with the past 3 days being the roughest.  I tried so desperately to help Monty not catch "it" but seems I have failed.  Even sleeping in the other bedroom hasn't spared him!

He missed work yesterday and although seemed a bit better last night today is a new day and . . . everything seems to have settled in his ear!  Home again.

Today I feel a bit better and feel like I might be on the mend.

Neither of us do "sick" very well and both of us at the same time????   Not fun!!!!

But . . . as they say . . . tomorrow is another day and with the help of prayer we WILL get through this crud and be back up and running on God's path soon!

Until next time . . . Michael managed to return the sheetrock himself, with the help of his family, and will be starting the priming!!!!!

Blessings to all.                                                 Susan and Monty

Oh yea --- only 2 more days and I will have read the entire Bible this past year!  I had a plan from our church and with His help -- I am almost there!  Amazing insights along the way and I can't wait to start all over on January 1 -- with a new reading plan!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sputtered to a stop

Yep --- I was headed south to Michael's to exchange his left over sheetrock for primer yesterday when plans took a change.

As I was traveling along the highway enjoying the peace and quiet and lost in my thoughts -- all of a sudden my truck started sputtering and spitting and feeling like it had no power.  Within seconds I realized I needed to get off the highway and out of the way of traffic.  I pulled over at the stop light just a few feet in front of me and by that time the truck had completely died and I coasted to a stop.  I tried to restart it but . . . nothing doing! 

My first call was to Michael to let him know I wouldn't make it there.  The next call was to Monty.  And the next call was to the towing company.  Just as I got off the phone with the towing company and knowing it would take them almost 30 minutes to get to me -- Michael called me back.  He asked me if I had 2 fuel tanks on my truck?  Yes.  He told me to flip the switch to the other tank and then try and start it.  Bingo!  Started right up!  He told me that the fuel pump on the other tank had gone out.  Wow!

So I quickly called the towing company back and cancelled my request.  Then I called Monty, who was already on his way to me, and told him I was headed to the closest gas station because my other tank was less than a quarter full.  When I got this truck one thing Monty had told me was to never let a tank get completely empty before changing to the other one.  Good advice!  Just in case of an emergency, he said.  Thank goodness I took his advice to heart!

So I didn't make it to Michael's but I did make it to the gas station and home.  Thank you Michael -- my engine angel!  He didn't get his primer but that will hopefully happen later this week.

The other problem is that I am sick as a dog with a nasty sore throat and cold!  I didn't feel well on Saturday or Christmas day and tried to fight it . . . and am still fighting.  But yesterday went downhill fast and today is the same.  So with all the snow falling and the way I feel --- it's a day where I am staying home, resting (which is very difficult for me) and praying this won't last long and that the scratchy ears that Monty had when he went to work this morning will also be prayed away with all your prayers added to ours!

God sometimes changes our plans but one thing I have learned --- I'd much rather follow His plans than mine!  He knows what's best and even though we may not understand the whole thing -- it's all about trust!

Until next time . . . thanks for the prayers.                          Susan and Monty

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wonderful Christmas

You can see by the looks on their faces that they loved Christmas!  Luke not only got enough Lego pieces to keep him building forever - when he opened the latest and greatest Wii game package I'm surprised you didn't hear his screams of joy out in California!  It was a great day spent with all my kids and kid in laws and grandkids!  I have no doubt Jesus was smiling as He looked down and saw everyone sharing a joy that could only come from Him!

From the left -- my son and daughter in law, my daughter and son in law, and my other daughter and her fiance'.  Where have the years gone?

Yesterday was spent at my parent's house also celebrating by eating and opening gifts and playing games and even more laughter boucing off the walls.  I guess no matter how old we are in years it's a special part of Christmas that lets all of us awaken the kid in us again! 

It is our prayer that all of you had some time to feel that special joy that comes from knowing the love God must have for each of us to send His own Son to save us!!!!!  Wow!!!  What a thought!

And today it's back to work for Monty and I am on my way to Michael's to pick up the sheetrock we had left over and exchange it for primer.  Michael himself can start that process and I even have a painting pole that will enable him to reach the ceilings!  He is so excited to see things coming along so well.  Next comes the painting, the flooring, the cabinet designs and then . . . oh how close it is . . . I know he can feel it!

And Don is still waiting on word from Monroe and the Amish.  As soon as we get these holidays behind us . . .

Until next time . . . God's special peace to you all.                          Susan and Monty

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blessed Christmas

All of the Angel Tree deliveries are made and the gifts are under the trees.  At the home of the last visit I made -- the gifts I brought were the only gifts under the tree -- and Mom said no more would be added.  Thanks so much for all who participated in Angel Tree.  You made it possible for all those children to smile and think of their incarcarated parent on Christmas morning and know that even though they aren't there -- their parent loves them -- and so does Jesus!

Our gifts are now all purchased and wrapped.  Monty delivered the ones to his mother and step dad yesterday.

All (well, almost all) of my cooking and baking is done.  I have a couple of last minute touches to my salads tomorrow morning before we head off to my daughter's to have Christmas with all my kids and their spouses/fiances and grandchildren.  It's always so exciting to see the looks on everyone's face since we all toss our names in the hat and draw for gift buying.  We take time for each person to open theirs before the next person is allowed to do the same.  It makes it alot more fun and always brings back memories of Christmas "back then."

Tomorrow night Monty and I will be heading to church.  Our home church doesn't have a service so we have decided to go the local Catholic church -- and I know we'll need to arrive early as they will pack it full.  He has never been to a Catholic service and this church is the oldest and largest one here in town so we are really looking forward to their service.

Sunday morning we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus in our home church.  Pastor Dave says it will be a bit more traditional and litergical than we usually have -- but that's what Christmas is all about.  That's the way I grew up, singing the old familiar hymns and hearing the scriptures read from Luke 2 and just resting in that Spirit of Peace.

From there we will be spending the rest of the day with my family.  No doubt there will be way too much food, too many gifts and laughter loud enough to hear across the road.  To me, it's what "coming home for Christmas" is all about. 

It is our hope and prayer that all of you will be celebrating the birth of our Saviour, our Wonderful Counselor, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords in a way that will bring a smile to your face and peace and warmth to your heart.

Until next time . . . Merry Christmas to one and all.  With all our love,           Susan and Monty

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Angel Tree

Each Christmas our church is a part of something awesome -- it's called Angel Tree.

On our Christmas tree are little pieces of paper in the shape of angels.  Each has the name of a child who has a parent incarcerated.  Members pull a name/names from the tree and provide gifts for them.  There are suggestions and sizes on the papers to give them guidance.  After all the gifts are purchased and brought to church where they can be wrapped, our church hosts a big party for the kids.  That party was this Sunday.  It's always such fun for the kids and brings a piece of their parents to their heart. 

For those who are unable to make the party -- I get to be the big red sleigh (with wheels) and deliver their gifts to their homes.

Yesterday was one of my delivery days.  God never ceases to amaze me at how He works and how He cares!

My first stop was way, way, way, way out in the boonies!  I thought I would never get there and when I did . . . the grandmother had warned me about the drive way but no warning could prepare me for that driveway!!!!  She lived back off the road and the holes in that drive would bury a small VW!  I may have a big truck but it's not 4 wheel drive so there was no way I could attempt it.  I packed the bag over my shoulder and the other one on the other arm and headed off for a "jaunt" up (yes, up hill) the driveway.  She met me at the porch and would not allow me to come inside -- she was too embarrassed at how things looked!  But all she could do was thank me, bless me and praise Jesus!!!  She is the grandmother raising 3 kids while her daughter is incarcerated!!  What an angel she is!

As I left there and headed to my next stop I just couldn't get her off my mind.  God wasn't done with me or her yet -- I just didn't know that.

I arrived at the next stop and this was also a grandmother raising 2 children!  Made me appreciate my own children a bit more, that's for sure!  And to thank God for keeping them on the right path, not only as they grew up - but now also!

My first grandmother had called me a bit earlier asking if there might be any "left over things" from the party for a friend of hers.  She explained the situation to me -- another heart wrencher -- and that this little 3 year old boy wasn't going to have anything under his tree for Christmas!  Now I don't know about you -- but in my book that's just wrong!  We didn't have "left overs" but as always - God stepped in and now this little boy will have some cool toys, an outfit of clothes and a pair of pajamas to open on Christmas morning! 

And this morning -- all my Bible studies for the day talked about was helping the poor, giving to those who need to see His love in action, being and doing what God called us to do!  I love how He confirms each thing He asks us to do!

So . . . I am challenging EACH ONE of you to find someone who isn't as fortunate as you this Christmas!  You won't have to look far and they won't be hard to find!  Then . . . pray about what God would have you do to make that situation a bit better -- atleast for this Christmas!  And after He has told you ---- DO IT!!!!!  Be the angel in someone else's life -- be the hands and feet of Jesus and instead of telling someone about His love --- show them!!!!!!!

Blessed to be a blessing!!!!!

I am looking forward to my next delivery tomorrow!!!!!!!

Until next time . . . "embrace the upside-down virtues of My kingdom and lift up those who have little.  Though they have little, they are loved much.  Love them as you love yourself.  In extneding unexpected kindness and mercy to those who cannot help themselves, you will find that My mercy overflows to you, overwhelming you with goodness and grace."

"Lord, your mercy overwhelms me -- help me to share it lavishly with those who have little."

Susan and Monty

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coming closer and closer

A "roof top" Merry Christmas from John!!!!!

An update on Michael:   Rob went out yesterday along with Pastor Jan and the first tape coat is on the ceilings and the walls.  The walls could be ready for primer by the end of the week or the first of next week!  Go Pastor!!!!!

We ended up with 7 pieces of sheetrock left over so as soon as the weather allows (and I have men to help lift and load) I will head to Michael's and get those back to Lowes so I can turn that refund money into money for the primer.

Priming is a job Michael can do alot of on his own.  He can even take a long painting pole and reach the ceilings!  He wants to be more involved and we are coming into alot of areas where he can work day and night if he wants to! 

With Christmas being this weekend and New Years next . . . we may not have alot of volunteers but that's the way it should be.  This is the time of year for family and Michael should be focused on that also.

But let these holidays get past us . . . and look out here we come . . . getting closer and closer to "home" in a new sense of the word!!!!

For Jack in Jersey and his friend who would like to do the kitchen --- we will be ready as soon as the walls are painted and the flooring is installed.  We want to put the cabinets on top of the flooring so you will be next in line ---- get ready!!!!

For the rest of you --- please remember to keep this project --- and Don's in your prayers.  Most likely it will also be after the holidays before Monroe and his team of Amish can get started on Don's.  We appreciate your prayers and ask that you keep them coming!!!!!

Have a wonderful week and remember the real reason for this season!  Without Jesus where would we be?  I, for one, don't want to even think about that answer!!!

Blessings and love until next time . . .                           Susan and Monty

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gift Wrap Day

Today is the day where our Vineyard Church sets up a large (huge) station at our local mall and wraps gifts for absolutely FREE!  It's enough to make the best of folks smile and dance!!!!!

Yes, you read right --- free!  We don't even take donations!  It's our time to give back, in a very small way, for all God has blessed us with.

But . . . as usual . . . someone leaked the news to satan and he was at the door and waiting for Susie even before she arrived to get set up this morning!

We always have the same set up -- 8 tables and a couple of chairs.  Upon arrival this morning there were 4 tables!  Supposedly there has been a "change in policy" but no one informed us of this change so Susie has 9 workers lined up in 2 hour shifts from 8 am this morning through 10pm tonight -- with 8 wrapping stations!   And only 4 tables!

To top it all off --- Pastor Dave (her dad) is down sick and not able to be there at all! 

So . . . some kind folks headed back to church to bring 4 of our own tables (which the mall may or may not agree with once they come and take a look and make sure it's not too crowded) and the wrapping is underway.

My thoughts ----- there must be some extra special, over the top, blessings lined up for today or satan would be focussing his nastiness elsewhere! 

My other thought --- satan --- you lose!!!!!!  I've read the end of the Book and sorry but you'll just not spoil this day or the plans the Lord has so you might as well pack up your bag of nasty tricks and GET AWAY from all of us!!!!! 

And oh yea ---- get your sickly hands off Pastor Dave as well!!!  He is a man of God and you will NOT stop his annointing!!!!

Until next time . . . bring the gifts and come expecting a blessing!!!!!              Susan and Monty

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All Closed In

Yep --- Michael's sheetrocking is done!!!!!  No more seeing through walls.  The view you have here is as you step inside the front door and look to your left.  Where the green board is -- that's the kitchen area.  The refrigerator will set just left of the white bumpout area.  In the corner will be a small counter top.  To the left of that corner will be the stove, a small cabinet and then the sink area with a bar extending out around 8 feet from the wall.  The bar will extend from the area where the green board and the white board meet.  You can also catch a glimpse of the small hallway that leads to the master bedroom and master bathroom.

It's so exciting to see all the walls and ceilings in place!  We've all waited a long time for this but to Michael it's seemed even longer!

Pastor Jan will begin the taping and mudding process tomorrow and as soon as he is done we can start priming! 

Each day we get closer and closer!  Each day God brings more and more blessings.  Today I received an email from someone out of state who wants to send Michael a special gift and needed his address.  Miracle after miracle -- God providing what we need right when we need it!

So be sure and stay tuned . . . as Monroe still works on scheduling the Amish to come and work on Don's and we move forward with Michael's --- God moving at His perfect timing!

Until next time . . . Blessings and love to all.                        Susan and Monty

Monday, December 12, 2011

Homeland Security

Happy Monday to all.

This morning Homeland Security paid a visit to Don's house.  This is good news!

FEMA wasn't given enough information for them to substantiate coming into the area after the tornadoes and Don doesn't qualify for an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan since he lost his job after the tornadoes, his only hope of any funding was the grant from the state of Indiana.  Today, with the visit of the inspector we were told that he does qualify and will be getting the loan!  Even though it's only $5,000 that will take us a long way in the rebuilding!!!!  What great news!  It may take 8 weeks to get here but that's okay.  Catholic Charities can help out in the meantime and as soon as we get word from Monroe that the Amish are scheduled we will be ready to start!

I also talked with our own Pastor Dave and he assured me the Amish are more than welcome to stay at our church -- and they are going to furnish all the coffee they can drink!  I am not a coffee drinker but from what I hear -- they have the best ever!!!! 

And the YMCA will make their showers available for them to shower at the end of their work days so we are ready and waiting. 

It's times like this that the holidays just sort of get in my way -- not complaining -- just saying how it is when we're in the field and focused on rebuilding lives by rebuilding homes!

It's a good Monday!!!!

Thank you, Lord, for the great news!  We put our plans and our days and our ways in Your hands and pray everything we think, do and say will bring glory to You!

Until next time . . .                     Susan and Monty

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rockin' Saturday

The man is a machine when it comes to hanging sheetrock!  John is a contractor who is used to working jobs that he bids out -- he gives the client a price and no matter how long it takes to do the work - it's the same price.  So when it comes to working --- time is money --- and he has no time to waste!  With the help of Rob's lift they were able to put up the 12 foot pieces of ceiling sheetrock with ease. 

The tail gate of John's truck says it all!  And to save you the time of looking up that scripture, "Seek the Kingdon of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need."  Amen to that!  He's doing just that with Michael's rebuild.

It's always such a blessing to have a father and son team come and volunteer.  Keith and Jonathon are amazing.  Most teens would have more than a little trouble learning and then taking correction from their fathers.  Not this team.  I have so enjoyed watching Jonathon grow up.  I remember the first time he and his dad came to Mississippi for a week.  Jonathon was only 11 years old and not at all impressed with any of the work needing done.  The second day he started out by traveling with Monty and I.  After feeding him a good breakfast and stopping back by the job his dad and the team were working on (gutting a house) he managed to get into the swing of it and as most boys are -- he found it fun to do some demolition work!  He is learning so much by listening to his dad and I see his heart grow and change and want to reach out and help others!  What an example both of them are for the rest of the world!

Schel, who provided and installed the brand new heating and air system, came back to help out again today.  And for the first time --- he wasn't underneath the trailer!  He actually got to come inside where it was warm and helped hang sheetrock!  In this picture you can see the yellow lift that helps get the sheetrock to the ceilings.  Micheal is underneath cranking it up as they direct.  No one is allowed to just sit back and watch -- even if you are in a wheelchair!!   :)

Monty and John were the only ones who couldn't enjoy the new heating system.  They were working outside, on top of the trailer, rebuilding the new vent for that system.  Each was dressed for the occasion and got alot of hard work done.  The old vent had to come out and the new one installed and sealed properly.  Alot of scraping old "goo" and putting on new "goo."  They got it done and I guarantee there won't be leaks around that vent!

It was a great day -- a day that had Michael smiling from ear to ear -- a day he had waiting for since we started this project.  And once again -- the dollar amount that had been donated just this week was the exact dollar amount we needed to do the job!  Chaulk it up to yet another miracle in a long line of them already -- and I know there are many more to come!

To those men who came out on this really cold day and spread warmth that can't be measured with the thermometer -- God bless you for your hearts of service and your obedience to follow them!

Until next time . . . what an awesome God we serve!!!!                        Susan and Monty

Friday, December 09, 2011

Still waiting . . . and Michael prepares . . .

Michael's will be transformed tomorrow --- sheetrock will be going up quickly!  We've got some pros on the schedule and it will be awesome!

Don and I are still waiting to hear an arrival date of Monroe and his team of Amish experts.  Could be as early as this Monday and then it could be next week.

Holidays make scheduling difficult but . . . God's perfect timing!

Hang on to your seats for further developments and please continue to cover all of these projects and the volunteers in your prayers!

Until next time . . . blessed to be a blessing!                          Susan and Monty

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Delay on one end, forward on another

Late on Saturday I received a phone call from Monroe telling me one of their warehouses in Illinois caught fire and he was on his way to assess the damage.

Yesterday I heard from him again - major damage!  This means he will not be able to get here this week so Don's is delayed until next week.  With all the rain over the past couple of days I imagine Don is nearly floating in his family room and hopefully the weather will cooperate for a couple of days late next week and we can get the Amish here and a new roof -- and then start inside!  Please keep this entire situation and all the people involved in your prayers.

As for Michael's -- we have rounded the bend!!!  There is light at the end of the tunnel!  The heat is working and on and there is sheetrock inside and today Michael and a couple of his family plan on starting to hang the ceilings!  It's the bend we've been waiting for.  Now the closing up can begin, it starts to look more and more like a house and the excitement builds!  This Saturday we will be hanging sheetrock all over the place -- thanks to enough funding that just came to us today at Bible study!!  God is providing exactly what we need right when we need it -- nothing ahead of time.  All the more reason we are standing on pure faith every step of the way!  And it's awesome!  The smile on Michael's face this morning was priceless and was evidence of the true joy of the Lord!

I am also in the process of putting together our Christmas newsletter.  If you are not already on our mailing list and would like to be -- please leave a comment with your address (I will not publish personal information that comes as a comment -- all comments come to me first -- I have the choice to publish or not -- and I will be happy to send you one.

Until next time . . . what are you standing in faith and believing for?                Susan and Monty

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The day he's waited for . . . arrived today!

Yes, today was the day!  Michael has been waiting for sheetrock since day one and today I loaded up my truck with ceiling sheetrock!  You can see by the smile on his face that it was a day worth waiting for!  With Rob's lift the job will be much smoother and easier!

Today was another work day and thankfully we had quite the team of volunteers!  John, Keith and his son Jonathon and Rob from Vineyard and Schel and Sus from Stonegate all made it a day of work and laughter and love!

The first task was to make use of the younger men and their younger and stronger backs -- so they were given the task of digging the trench to bring the wiring from the trailer to the permanent power pole.  It was quite a lengthy distance but they started in and followed the line Rob had painted on the ground and worked their way through buried bricks and a sidewalk that was in the way!  Oh the power of youth!
In the beginning . . .

Digging down 24 inches for a distance of approximately 130 feet takes strength.  Doing it without getting paid takes a servant heart!  There were alot of those helping today!

That roll of wire isn't lightweight or easy to handle.  Keith and Rob got it all unrolled and then ran through the conduit and then into the ground!  Quite the process -- quite the love of Jesus being planted -- literally!

This is why I needed a full size truck bed!  That sheetrock is 12 feet long and packs some pretty heavy weight when stacked!  No problem for Big Red!

Getting it unloaded is another job!  They are packed with 2 sheets together.  We pulled the tape off that holds them together and even then it's tough work!  Once again the youth and their strong backs were put to the test -- and they passed with flying colors!

I have always been one to "preach" that women are very able to do construction!  Sus took that message to heart and learned to use both a staple gun and a slap staple gun today!  The real evidence of a servant heart?  She just had back surgery a couple of months ago!  This woman is such a dear friend to me and a source of strength that is indescribable!!  A priceless treasure, a true gift to me from God!  Thank you Lord and thank you Sus!

No, it's not a ground hog or a mole or even a wild boar that's been rutting through the mud! It's Sus's husband, Schel.  He spent his entire time underneath the trailer wrapping up the final details on the heating and air system he installed a couple of weeks ago and then took it a step further and finished up the vapor barrier underneath!  Now it's been very rainy here the past few days so he knew to wear his yellow "duck suit" but after today -- that duck suit was going to have to be sent to the trash!  What a trooper!  He may be a quiet man -- but he's a mighty man of God!

It's been a great work day!  I know God was smiling and most likely laughing out loud with the rest of us who were "working."  Somehow the word "work" just isn't fitting when a group of volunteers get together to bless someone!!!

An update on Monroe, who is trying to organize his Amish team to come here and rebuild Don's home.  One of their warehouses caught fire and has major damage so Monroe is headed to see how bad things are.  Please hold them all up in prayers.  And some extra prayers for his brother who is hospitalized with a severe and life threatening infection in his leg!  More details will follow as they get to me!

Blessings and thanks to all.

Until next time . . . bless someone else and feel the love for yourself!              Susan and Monty

Friday, December 02, 2011

Looking both ways


Monroe called me yesterday and he is rallying the Amish troops.  He hopes to bring them next weekend, Friday and Saturday.  He will be calling me to come and pick him up (Amish don't drive) one day early next week to come back and take a very detailed look at Don's and put together his final plan of action so I can have materials on the ground and ready to go -- the right materials!  A couple of options are in the making to have Don be able to stay out of the house to enable the volunteers to work freely and at a pace they are used to.

Michael's work day is again tomorrow and I know we'll be running wiring to the main power pole and hopefully tying up the last of the electrical to be ready to sheetrock the ceilings.  The ceiling insulation only needs a couple more spots checked and it's ready.  I know Michael is more than ready and join me in prayers for volunteers to come out and enjoy the sunny day!

Today I am headed to help my mother cater a dinner for the VIPs of the Methodist church.  She never ceases to amaze me at how she can nearly single handedly pull together these big dinners!  She asked me months ago to help so off I go.  Should be so much fun!!

Monty is doing well with the stitches out.  His finger did "drop" a large piece of dead area last night but hopefully the rest will continue to heal.  It's tough when so much of his work requires his hands to be wet.  Between working in water and working with wood -- both cause extreme dryness of the skin so he will do the best he can to keep healing ointment on them -- pray for him!!!  Guys and ointment just don't seem to go together!!    :)

So . . . by looking both ways -- and in all directions things are coming together and moving forward.  In all we do we pray for God to be glorified and His people blessed through our help!

Until next time . . . love to all.                                          Susan and Monty

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm not ready for this . . .

Yesterday we were back to Tuesday morning Bible study.  I really missed it since I had to leave to meet Monroe the last time we met and last week we didn't meet due to the holiday.  Each week I come away feeling refilled and refueled and I really needed it yesterday.

But of course, just let satan get wind of that refilling and he isn't happy and tries to hit me doublely hard!  I felt as though I were in a battle all day long.

When I left Bible study it was raining and within minutes it changed over to snow -- a heavy snow -- one that made that 40 minute trip quite trecherous!  The closer I got to home the harder it snowed and thankfully it didn't last all day.  The tree in the picture below is in my front yard and no --- I am not ready for this kind of weather!!!!

Monty was also less than thrilled with this surprise weather.  He had been working outside all day, sewer and water lines, and was soaked when he got home.  Trying to keep his stitched finger dry was an impossibility and even though he had coveralls on -- the zippers are broken and he was still cold and wet!  Thanks to our neighbor Shelley's more than generous heart I was able to go to Walmart today and get him a new pair with the label that says "water proof."  He'll be the one to put that to the test!  Bless you, Shelley, for seeing a need and blessing him!  You're the best!

Today the sun is shining and that snow is trying to melt.  Tonight Monty will get the stitches removed and we are still praying that the rebuilding of that finger will hold.  It's turned all sorts of colors and I'm just not sure yet and anxious to hear what the doctors think.

I got a great surprise email too!  Seems Jack, from New Jersey, who brought Louis and spent a week rebuilding the subfloors on Michael's trailer -- has been keeping up with the blog and has a skilled friend who wants to come and install the kitchen cabinets for us when we are ready!!!!  This is such an amazing blessing because this entire kitchen is custom designed for Michael and his wheel chair.  We know God always brings just who we need right when we need them and knowing this ahead of time allows us to breathe a sigh of thanksgiving and praise!  Not to mention how awesome it will be to see Jack again!

I am still waiting to hear from Monroe (with the Amish) about their upcoming trip here to rebuild Don's home.  I talked with him Monday morning and he was headed to Joplin, MO to see how his crew is doing in the rebuilding of a tornado damaged home there.  He will let me know as soon as he knows.

Also -- I got word today that we will have the ability (financially) to either put Don up in a hotel room or possible bring in a camper trailer and place it in his yard while the rebuilding is taking place!  The local county treasurer will make certain he has one or the other so a great big thanks to them for stepping an and helping out by going above and beyond!

Things are all moving forward and I'm doing my best to keep up.  I thank all of you for your prayers.  Times have been rather difficult for us lately -- financially -- and it looks like it's going to be necessary for me to find a job after the first of the year!  "Ends" just aren't meeting even with Monty working almost 6 days a week!  Please hold me up in special prayer about this decision.  It's not an easy one and with jobs as scarce as they are . . .  I need your prayers!  In many ways!!!!

Until next time . . . blessings and love to all.                                Susan and Monty

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanks John

Every Saturday is a work day at Michael's and even though this was a holiday weekend one faithful volunteer came out to help -- John.

John has been involved quite a few Saturdays and usually Monty picks him up and gives him a ride.  With Monty's finger still healing he decided it was best for him to not go and take the chance of further injury.  That was fine with John - he drove himself and was such a big help to Michael - especially since he was the only volunteer!

The first task at hand was to put plastic over the new back windows.  They still need the trim pieces at the top (you can see the area above the window) and that is where water wants to come in.  With rain in the forecast it was necessary to do a make-shift fix for the time being.   With the exterior of this trailer being metal - duct tape will not stick.  But we got busy tossing ideas around and came up with a solution that was indeed put to the test last night and will be for the next few days according to the weather man.  Let's pray it works.

Next came the task of continuing the ceiling insulation.  You can see by the picture that quite alot has already been done and that Michael will be both toasty warm in the winter and nice and cool in the summer.  Insulation is not something "joyful" to work in - but John finds joy in everything he does and came dressed for the job - long sleeves.

Michael is always right there lending a helping hand and most of the time trying to get the job done himself but let's face it -- doing ceiling insulation from a wheelchair?  And yet he had already found a way!

It's not completely done but with a few more volunteers and a few more hours we can call it buttoned up and ready for ceiling sheetrock!  That is a day Michael (and all of us) have really been looking forward to!

Michael also put a request out over the internet for the wire we will need to connect to the permanent power pole outside for the final electrical work.  The wire normally retails for nearly $4.00 per foot.  He received an answer from someone who has a brand new roll, more than enough for what we need, and is selling it for $1.00 per foot!  Thank you Lord - for that miraculous answer to prayers! 

In my morning Bible studies the other day I read this: "The basic motivation of life is that we please God more than people and thus serve people through God's love."

Each time someone volunteers to help Michael (or anyone else in need) they love God more than people and show that love by serving those people in need.

Think about that and take a quick look around you -- I guarantee you can show God's love in ways you never imagined.   We just need to take our blinders off and really look . . .

Until next time . . . it's always the season to serve people through God's love!          Susan and Monty

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sharpshooter --- thankfully!

While babysitting for my grandchildren on Sunday afternoon I saw a wonderful magazine filled with recipes on my daughter's table.  Since she only wanted one of them she gave me the whole book!  I had my eye on a special cake that looked like something great to make to take to my parent's house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Remember --- my mother is the queen of pie baking so I don't go there -- but I could be safe with a cake!  This picture is the before -- all three layers ready to go into the oven.
Ta - Da!  The final product.  It actually looked like the picture in the magazine and let me tell you -- it was delicious!!!!  It was a carrot cake with coconut and oranges in the batter with a creme center that was cream cheese and orange marmalade with chocolate ganache on the top!!!  Alot of work but more that worth it!

It was a great Thanksgiving day.  My brother from Florida made it home and we were all surprised that his daughter, my niece, also made the trip from Florida!  Seems my other niece and my daughter both knew she was coming but proved that they are very able to keep a secret!  It was great to see both of them and I only wish we had more time together.

Today we were invited to a different kind of Black Friday -- one where we could do more shooting and try and qualify for our Rifleman badge.  I love going out and target shooting!  I never dreamed I would but it's the one and only thing in my entire life that I have found I can do and completely block out everything else going on in my head!  For those of you who know me well -- or read this blog at all -- you know I am a "wordy" person and all those words are always banging around in my brain, rain or shine, asleep or awake!  But shooting is the one thing I have discovered that takes all my focus and attention and nothing else at all is in my mind!  It's so great!  So today we headed back out to shoot more AQTs (Army Qualification Tests) and see how we could do.
These are the targets.  We are placed 82 feet from the target.  The first bell shape is 4 inches in height and we must shoot 10 shots from the standing position and have 2 minutes to do so.
The next 2 targets are 3 inches tall and we must shoot 5 shots in each.  We get ourselves set up while sitting, then we must stand and wait for the command and then sit back down in our positions and load and shoot.  We have 50 seconds to complete all the shots.  We have to load 2 bullets in one cartridge and 8 in another so it means we have to also change cartridges in that 50 seconds.
The 3rd line is shot from the prone (lying down) position.  We once again get set in the prone position, stand and wait for the command, then get into the prone position and shoot 3 shots in the first and middle target and 4 shots in the far right target.  We have 60 seconds to do that.  This one also requires that we have a cartridge with 2 bullets and another with 8 - changing cartridges once again.
The bottom line targets are only 1 inch high and are all done from the prone position also.  This time we start and stay in that position.  We also have 5 minutes to shoot 2 shots in the first 2 targets and 3 shots into the next 2. We get to use one cartridge with 10 bullets so there is no changing them out while shooting.  Each score in this line counts for double points.
My results?
On my first sheet I didn't even score enough to qualify.  The second one I made Marksman. The third I made Sharpshooter and on my fourth (and final) one I scored 189, which is still Sharpshooter and only 21 points from making Rifleman!!!!  I am happy!  I am very happy!!!!

Monty got the change to do some skeet shooting after targets (he didn't do targets with his injured finger but wanted to try the skeets.  He won one round and in doing so hurt his finger so he stepped out (that was his 4th round) and it was time to head home.  He really enjoyed doing this and hopes to be able to do more of it once he's healed.

These are all the men lined up for the skeet shooting.  Monty is the one on the far right.

Yesterday was a great Thanksgiving day and today was a great day after.  We hope you had an enjoyable holiday and didn't get too carried away with the shopping!

Tomorrow we return for another work day at Michael's.  I will be calling him immediately after this blog and checking in to see how much more ceiling insulation needs to be installed.  We are edging closer and closer to hanging sheetrock -- which means we will be closing it in and moving towards it really looking like a home!  We might be creeping along at a snail's pace but we are moving forward!!!!

Until next time . . . blessings to all.                              Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blessed Thanksgiving to all

Today my house smells like bacon from breakfast this morning and now chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!  It's that time of year!  I love it!

This past Sunday Pastor Dave had a great message on thankfulness and if I had to name what I am most thankful for this year it would be --- we are home for another Thanksgiving!!!! 

Today my brother arrives from Florida!  My other two brothers live near my parents already.  We are only an hour away.

My son is about an hour away and my two daughters are right here in town.  That means my grandchildren are also right here in town. 

All of those are priceless blessings and we appreciate them even more than we did 6 years ago.  We know what it's like to NOT be with them during holidays and to be able to enjoy being with them for the second year in a row --- thank you Lord!

It is our prayer that you take a minute (or longer) and really think about ALL the things we have to be thankful for.

My 6 year old grandson's kindergarten teacher asked them to tell what they are thankful for.  His response?  "Hot girls!"   :)  You just have to laugh -- and pray for his parents -- he's only 6?????

We are thankful for all of you who continue to support us, to pray for us, to bless us, to love us and to understand the call God has placed on our lives! 

Our Thanksgiving wish is for God to return the blessings to you a hundred fold!!!!!!

Until next time . . . Happy Thanksgiving to You!                          Susan and Monty

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Heating and Air . . . INSTALLED!!

My apologies for not having pictures of today's progress at Michael's.  I just could not get there today.

But . . . Michael informed me that his brand new heating and air unit are installed!!  He has no idea just how warm and cool his new home will be!  In his current living conditions he must heat with wood.  This means he has to wheel himself outside to get the wood, then get it stacked on his front porch area, then roll from inside the house to the porch, load the wood on his lap, manuever back inside and load the woodstove!  And then when he and I were talking the other day he was telling me how the wind blows through around the windows so much that the curtains are swaying back and forth!  So this heating and air unit is a blessing he's yet to fully experience! 

Many, many thanks to Schel for making this possible -- and for doing the installation!

Michael also told me he had some helpers today!  Praise God!  They worked very hard to get the ceiling insulation put up to prepare for the ceiling sheetrock to begin.  If you read a couple of days ago Michael was doing this alone -- using a broom -- because there was no one to help him!  Volunteers are far more priceless than they can imagine!

Since Monty had to stop the installation of the door yesterday and make a mad dash to the ER for his finger -- he had to finish it today.  He doesn't get paid until the job is done so . . . I went with him to try and help.  We did get it done and he also found out that even though it's just one finger, it affects your entire body!  The pain was tremendous by the time we got home.  He will be taking all of next week off to allow this injury to graft itself back to his hand and heal properly.  After working today, he didn't argue with me!!!

With this next week being Thanksgiving week he won't miss that much work.  And he needs to catch up with some rest anyway.

Once again, many thanks to all who helped Michael today.  And many thanks to all of you who have expressed your concern over Monty right now!

Tomorrow is Sunday -- the perfect day to thank and praise God for all His blessings!

Until next time . . . our God is an awesome God!                           Susan and Monty

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Fabulous Frat Boys to the Rescue

27 fraternity brothers looking for a service project.  That's the phone call I got earlier this week and today was the day they got their service project.

We met at Sam's Club parking lot so we could have a mini orientation and do as much carpooling as possible.  None of the guys had ever done anything like this so we talked alot about respect for the homeowners and the situations they find themselves in.  We talked about safety and listening to what the homeowner (and me) direct them in doing.

They were all dressed for the weather, rather cool yet sunny, and before long one of their vehicles had sweatshirts piled on the hood as they learned that working causes one to work up a sweat, especially when one works as hard as they were.
Some of them worked on removing the damaged portions of Don's back deck.  With a little bracing here and there it will be as sturdy as it was before the tornado.
Others started working on some of the hanging tree limbs -- there are soooo many on his property and we need heavy equipment to remove about 5 very large trees before starting any rebuilding.  The guys did a great job in removing the ones they could.

A whole bunch of the guys headed inside.  These tackled the removal of flooring, ceiling insulation remnants and firring strips and then learned how to demo walls.  They learned quickly to shovel the trash out the window and the guys outside took wheelbarrow loads to the dumpster.  Teamwork!
Just how many frat brothers can you pack into one room?  Alot!
The outside team, wheelbarrow loaded and using brute force by carrying it overhead!  Who needs a gym?  These workouts are free.
Removing the ceilings from the second bedroom, insulation falling from overhead causes one to pull up the hoodie on your sweatshirt.
Four of the guys went to Billy's house to remove the foam tiles that used to be on his ceiling.  Everything else has been done except putting in this new dining room ceiling and residing one end of his house.  This work was tedious work since each and every staple had to be removed, by hand, and before doing anything they had to remove the dining room furniture.
He's just having way too much fun!!!!
The end result?  A 30 yard dumpster overflowing -- and they didn't even get to the garage!  What a great job guys!!!!  Wish we would've known about you all months ago when all the debris was everywhere!!
And then . . . very late in the work day . . . my phone rang.  All I heard Monty say was that he had cut his finger and was on the way to the emergency room.  He had been installing entry doors at 2 homes and even though he had just called me about an hour ago -- this was one of "those" phone calls that you know isn't good.
I had to bid a very quick farewell and thank you to the frat boys and headed to the hospital.  They had just got him in the room and oh my -- the blood was everywhere!  Ever since his heart attack in 2004 he takes a baby aspirin daily and today we learned they are working -- the blood flowed so much that even trying to get him cleaned up proved to be next to impossible!
We did get into a room where we discovered that he nearly cut the end of his finger off.  He had been using a box cutter style knife and had just put in a new blade!  While cutting the shims off the door frame -- in a split second -- the knife slipped and bam!!!!
They xrayed to make sure the bone was okay and it was.  But they had to rebuild the end of his finger before they could stitch it up.  It took over 45 minutes to put in 7 stitches and he was "done" with this day -- in a big way!  We will need to watch it very closely over the next few days to make sure the rebuilding "takes" and everything heals as it should.  The stitches have to stay in atleast 10 days!  And he needs to go back and finish the door installation tomorrow!  Guess who will be going to help!!!!  And no box cutter style knives will be allowed!

Please pray for miraculous healing and that the pain will subside alot during the night!

Tomorrow is the weekly work day at Michael's where the heating and air conditioning system will be going in and the ceiling insulation will hopefully be completed.  And guess what -- no box cutter knives will be allowed!!!

Until next time . . . many thanks to all the Sigma Alpha Epsilon men who came out to love on "neighbors" they didn't know!  You changed lives today -- and I bet yours is one of them.

Blessings to all.                                         Susan and Monty

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All Systems GO!!!

Yep -- the decision has been made!

We are going to rebuild Don's house!!!!

The morning had me sitting behind the contractor's desk at Lowes with 2 men who were trying their bes to get estimates done for me.  One was all the materials for the house, the other for the garage.  Of course, one can never get every single piece of material but we got as close as possible.  The house estimate was pretty complete but the one for the garage didn't have anything for the reworking of the foundation, running the water and sewer lines and reworking the back added on room.  Even without all that -- the estimate for the house was substantially lower.  That was the first good news.

The second?  When the Monroe County Building Commissioner paid a visit to Don's.  He hadn't seen it and agreed that he not only wanted to, he needed to.  The smile on his face as he got out of his truck spoke volumes to me.  We once again walked all around the house, checking the foundation, checking the roof and everything else.  When we went inside he was as surprised as I was -- nearly all the damage is confined to the roof.  Yes, it looks horrendous and if you've never worked on disaster damaged homes it might be overwhelming.  But the commissioner looked at nearly every detail and agreed with the plans we had in our mind.  He isn't able to "recommend" we rebuild the house or turn the garage into a house but he can tell us his thoughts.

I liked his thoughts.  He liked what he saw.  He also agreed to work with us in obtaining the building permit and anything else we might need along the way.

We were all smiles as he pulled out of the driveway.

Next was to make the phone call to Jane of Catholic Charities.  She's been covered up since Tuesday morning with the tornado that struck Paoli and was once again on the road there.  She was happy with the input from the commissioner and we agreed that we will rebuild the house.

Next phone call?  To Monroe, the Amish team leader.  I was happy to give him the green light to organize his team and let me know when they would be here and if they would need housing.  If he gets the team from Rockville, Illinois they will most likely drive back and forth since it's only an hour away.  If they come from any farther they will need housing.  I assured him we have a church lined up that will be happy to house them.  I also let him know that he and his wife are more than welcome to stay here with us.  Time will tell.

So tomorrow we welcome a very large group of volunteers, mostly students, from here at Indiana University.  They will have their work cut out for them.  We will be removing all damaged materials and furniture from Don's house, cleaning up the yard area, finishing the gut out of the damaged rooms and doing our best to have everything ready for the rebuilding to start.  It's a big job but there may be upwards of 35 volunteers so alot will be happening all over the place and it will all be good and working forward!  Go team!

Upon arriving home I got a phone call from Michael -- who was in his trailer working all by himself -- putting up ceiling insulation!!!!  I had to ask him how in the world he was doing that?  Remember that he's in a wheelchair!!!  He laughed when he told me he was using a broom to hold it up and get it to stay behind the trusses.  He later sent me a picture of the progress he'd made and I was amazed!  The old saying "necessity is the mother of invention" definitely applies here!  The sad part -- that he was doing this alone!  Where are the volunteers to help him?  Why does he have to wait till Saturdays to get any help -- and even then they just aren't showing up!  It is a little more than frustrating for me -- but ten times as much for Michael.  By working only one day a week we feel as though we are moving at a snail's pace -- a crippled snail at that!  We have put out request after request but so far they just aren't showing up.  Any ideas???? 

So at the end of the day -- a good day -- a day of moving forward in a big way with Don -- a day of Michael moving forward on his own -- I thank God for His direction -- for His provision and for His constant love for all of us!

Be sure and stay tuned for pics of tomorrow's work! 

To God be the glory!!!!!  

Until next time . . .                    Susan and Monty

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Go to the authorities . . .

The ceiling in Don's family room -- complete with a hole that not only allows the sun to shine it -- so does the wind and rain and cold weather, bringing down more insulation and ceiling each time.  What a mess!

I think the $64,000 question at this point is:  is the house structurally sound enough to invest in rebuilding or do we remodel the detached 2 car garage into a house?

Seems each contractor that comes to take a look has a different opinion. 

Today I had an appointment scheduled with the building commissioner to see if some of my questions and concerns could be resolved.  Monroe was sitting with his material list to rebuild the house and he needed to know whether to continue with it or not.  Don has applied for his grant from the state and with the weather getting colder each day we have no time to waste.

The commissioner was a big help as we discussed each option and difficulty and then had to toss in the fact of lack of funding.  It was rather like playing ping pong, back and forth and back and forth.

At the end of our meeting I asked the commissioner if he would come and take a look at the house and garage.  He said he hadn't seen them himself and although he cannot make the final decision due to liability issues, he can take a look and . . .

So tomorrow we will meet at Don's and once again get another opinion. 

Monroe got his material listing to me so first thing in the morning I will head to both Lowes and Menards to speak with the folks at the contractors desk where they can take the materials and put dollars to them.  Atleast then I will have a better idea of what the rebuilding of the house would cost.

Of course, there are always "hidden" things that can pop up when you start opening up walls and ceilings and floors so you can never get an exact estimate.  But we can get a rough idea and at the same time compare the costs between the stores.  Bottom dollar always wins!

Please keep Don in your prayers as this has been a very difficult time for him and although his spirits are high and he is being as flexible as anyone could be under these circumstances, we need to get started and get this gentleman back into a real home!

Also please pray for direction -- for us all to have divine wisdom in making this decision.  Our goal is to bring Don home again and in doing so -- bring glory and honor and thanksgiving to our awesome God who continually tells us that with Him nothing is impossible!

And while you are praying, please remember the 25 families in the city of Paoli (about an hour south of us) that were struck by a tornado on Monday night!

Until next time . . . "facing an impossibility give us the opportunity to trust God."  Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Which way do we go?

For days and days on end we have been trying to decide whether or not Don's home can be rebuilt.  It was hit by the tornado back in late May and as you can see -- the tarps are long gone along with the entire back of the home.  The alternative plan has been to turn his detached 2 car garage into a home.

Some have said it cannot be rebuilt, a few in fact.  Yesterday I brought in our local expert -- Rob.  He took a good look around, climbed on top, looked below and said he thought it could be rebuilt.  He gave his suggestions and his opinions and I forwarded those on to Jane at Catholic Charities.  She has been handling all these cases and is turning over the ones still needing work to us.  She and I spent a few more hours talking about which direction do we go?

Late afternoon had both she and I at the local long term recovery meeting, or a form of such.  Every state has an organization called VOAD -- Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster.  They literally wrote the manual for disaster response and relief.  A new organization is springing up all over called COAD; Community Organizations Active in Disaster.  There has been a local COAD here in Monroe County since January of this year . . . but they have no experience in disasters.  They met yesterday and invited Jane and I to come and shed some light on things since we both have over 6 years of "boots on the ground" experience.  It was a good meeting, alot was said and alot was learned and hopefully I will be getting some volunteer connections from those in attendance.

This morning I headed out for my weekly Bible study and had no more than landed in my seat when my phone rang.  Normally I would not answer but I had made a call to Monroe, our expert Amish contractor and volunteer team leader who led teams for us in Texas for over 2 months.  He lives in Illinois near the Indiana border and is actually working on a project about an hour from here.  I asked him to come and give us his opinion on Don's home.  He was able to arrive earlier than he had anticipated so I left Bible study and headed back home.  He arrived about noon and after a quick bite we were off to Don's where we spent hours looking at every single area of the house.  It was also his opinion that the house could be rebuilt and he was headed home to finish up the materials list and start gathering his volunteers. 

After meeting with Monroe I had yet another meeting with a local pastor to see about housing prospective volunteers at their church and to try and raise funding and volunteers for both this project and Michael's.  It was a good meeting and he was able to give me some good connections to follow up with.

Before I could even get home Jane had called me saying that yet another contractor (I think this was the 5th or 6th one) had visited Don's this afternoon and it was his opinion that the home cannot be rebuilt.  He had a list of 3 main reasons why not and so the final decision was to not rebuild the home and to turn the garage into a home.

I had to get ahold of Monroe and stop his plans for the house and ask about building the garage into a home.  He and I once again spent alot of time discussing this and that.  He will still see about gathering his team but with a different direction in mind.  He will be waiting for me to get final information from the building department commissioner tomorrow afternoon.

I was also able to schedule a volunteer team of students coming from here at IU for a work day this Friday.  They will be going to Don's to do major cleanup work.  The leader tells me there could be 35 to 45 people so we should really be able to make a difference there.  They will also be traveling down the road to remove the damaged ceiling in Billy's home to prepare for a new ceiling to be installed.  I'm excited for these volunteers and know both Don and Billy will be blessed by their help.

By the time all the phone calls were made and notes were written and emails with details printed out it was past dinner time!  Monty came dragging in soaking wet as he had been working on water pumps all day which required him to keep his arms in armpit high water -- and it was cloudy and rather cool today so this wasn't a fun job!  A quick bite and it's blog time.

I want to thank both Rob and Monroe for taking the time from their busy schedules and come to share their expertise in this difficult decision.  I value their thoughts, their experience and their hearts of service so very much.  For Monroe to make the trip was such a blessing to all of us.  I haven't seen him since Texas and have missed him and his teams of workers.  Don has also been so appreciative of all those who have taken time to try and help him get back home -- wherever that might be!

It just goes to show that there are people out there who care, who will go the extra mile for someone else -- for a complete stranger -- because they have the gift of a servant heart and know that when the Bible says to "love your neighbor" it doesn't just mean the folks next door!

God once again filled my heart with joy today.  The joy of seeing Monroe.  The joy of having Rob as our friend, our brother.  The joy of having a pastor of another church understand what we do and to try and help us out.  The joy of having another pastor care enough to pray over me even when I couldn't stay for Bible study.  The joy of seeing the smile on Don's face -- just because he felt cared for.  The joy of knowing that not only did God place this calling on my life -- He has and always will give me what I need to fulfill that calling!

Yes, I am very tired in the physical sense.  In my heart and soul I am revived!

What an awesome God I serve!!!

Until next time . . . we're blessed to be a blessing.  Jump in . . . the water's fine!
Susan and Monty

Saturday, November 12, 2011

One Man . . .

This day started off in a way I have been dreading -- our neighbors moved away!  For 16 years they have lived across the street from us -- I don't know life without them being there!  When I first bought our house I was newly divorced with 3 children and not a clue about what to do to survive.  We had lived in an apartment for a few months and I did not want to stay there.  My children had always lived in a house and when I went looking on a Sunday afternoon I found this one.  It was in my price range and the neighborhood seemed perfect.

The first time I met Tony and Evie I knew they were special.  My front deck was rather nasty as you could see underneath and I shared with them that one of my first projects was going to be to add boards to make sides.  When I got home the next day -- the project was done.  All I needed to do was to paint them!  I was shocked and thrilled and from day one we have been the best of friends.

Today they brought in the rental truck and along with their 3 kids and 3 kids in law they packed up and headed to their new home in Greenwood.  They want to be closer to their grandchildren and although we know it's the best thing for them --- I am being totally selfish in saying I cried and cried this morning in trying to wish them well and "see you later."

Lord, please bless them and keep them --- for us!

After bidding them farewell Monty was off to try and accomplish 3 jobs in 1 day.  This time he took John as a helper and they did get one of them complete.  The other 2 will come next week.  The main one was to seal the roof of a mobile home and they had to wait for the temps to reach high enough to get it done.  The sun was bright and the winds blowing so the job got done and John learned that coating a roof is sort of like painting with glue!

I headed south to Michael's.  Saturdays are always work days and today the new entry doors were on Rob's truck and ready to be installed --- thanks to the Vineyard church!!!!  How awesome!!!  I made a stop at Lowes to pick up ceiling insulation and because of a special sale I was able to purchase a much higher grade than we expected.  The salesmen laughed when I told them I could get all 32 rolls in the back of my truck -- until they saw me pack them in!  They had no idea they were dealing with the queen of packing a truck bed!  I even got a couple of 2 x 6's in there!

When I arrived at Michael's there was only one volunteer there for work day!  Rob -- one man!!  But oh that man!  Rob is a dear friend of ours who came to Texas to work with us and really has a heart for this kind of work.  He is a contractor and I really believe he can build anything!  He works at a constant speed -- non stop.  He doesn't get rattled, he doesn't get angry, he doesn't get frustrated, he just works and smiles and shares life with Michael --- basically a perfect example of Jesus' love!  He had the front door installed -- one wide enough for Michael to move in and out of with ease and when he pulled out the gold colored door handle and bolt lock --- his smile shown like gold!  He loved the idea of a handle instead of a door knob and was so excited when it was all put together!  You can see below.  Look closely at the one picture and see his smile through the door window!

One person CAN make a BIG difference --- and most people just don't realize that!  They think and feel like they can't do anything, they don't know how, they are just one and that's not enough -- all sorts of thoughts that are nothing but lies from satan!  Rob shows that one person, just one - who has the heart to serve, who knows that our mission field is sometimes right outside our own back door, who works all week long and yet comes out on Saturdays to help and serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus!

This world would be such an amazing place if more people were half that dedicated and committed to God!

Rob -- we thank you and we love you!

I have to show you the before and after pictures of the front door --- amazing!!!

Be sure and stay tuned for more astonishing changes and miracles!  Every Saturday WILL be a work day and we would love it if you would come out and join us, join in the laughter, join in the work, learn something new, show us something new and let the love of Jesus wrap around you while you be a blessing!  It WILL change your life!!!

Until next time . . . praise the Lord in your house of worship tomorrow!!!     Susan and Monty

Friday, November 11, 2011

Leaves . . . and more leaves . . .

Today was one of those days that I can get lost in.  Early this morning I headed outside to try and do something with the "depth" of leaves that had accumulated in our yard.  With an extremely large pin oak tree and an equally large maple tree the leaves were amazing.

A very dear friend of mine knows how much I enjoy working outside so he gave me an electric blower.  I have learned to love that thing.  I got ahold of it and started in our yard.  It took quite a long time but it now looks really good -- atleast you can see the grass now.

From there I headed across the street to our neighbor lady and she had even more in her yard than we did.  She backs up to the woods and so . . . She now also looks good. 

And then there was one more neighbor and it also looks alot better.

In between I was answering phone calls and talking with our Amish buddy, Monroe, about Don's house - the one hit by the tornado and the one I showed you pics of a few days ago.  Monroe and his team worked with us over 2 months in Texas and I know what kind of miraculous work they are capable of.  The exact kind of work we need with Don.  Monroe is checking his schedule and will hopefully make it over here early next week -- before I have my meeting with the building commissioner.

Our dear friend Rob, who has been the lead carpenter on Michael's, is also going to take a look at Don's sometime on Monday and give me his opinion.  He not only is a fabulous carpenter, he has a heart for this kind of work and I trust his ideas and thoughts more than anyone else.

It is my hope that after these two gentlemen look at Don's we can come to a decision as to what direction we will head.

I am also excited as the article in our local newspaper asking for volunteers has spurred some emails and a couple of them are interested in helping at Michael's on Saturdays until we have a direction for them here.  One is a carpenter and I hope to get him into another home next week, depending on his schedule.

Last night we were blessed to be able to attend the Campus Life banquet and someone asked me a question sort of caught me off guard but is typical of my life here at home.  They asked what we have been doing and when we told them about Michael's project and Monty working full time and on his own during and sometimes 7 days a week -- they looked at me and asked, "what do you do all week?"  My first thought -- they obviously don't read the blog -- and my second thought was "sometimes it's tiring trying to explain to someone what I actually do!"  I truly do think I am an alien here on earth!     :)

So tomorrow I return to Michael's and see how many volunteers show up.  I know Rob will be there as he has the new exterior doors and will be doing the reframing job to install them both.  And Schel will be there as he's bringing the new heating and air system.  I will be stopping to purchase all the ceiling insulation early in the morning and hopefully we have plenty of help to get all the projects completed!  The weather is supposed to be sunshine and in the low 60s so --- perfect!

Once again I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who do read the blog and do understand what we do and why we do it!  We appreciate your love, your prayers and your support more than you know!

Until next time . . . blessings one and all.                                Susan and Monty